Excitement surrounding North Park eagles inspires upcoming program - PineCreek Journal

Excitement surrounding North Park eagles inspires upcoming program

Monday, February 17, 2020 | 11:00 PM

Love is in the air for the bald eagles of North Park, and if their union produces an eaglet this year park officials and onlookers expect interest in the young raptor family to skyrocket.

“That’ll be a whole different level,” said Ken Knapp, a naturalist at Latodami Nature Center in the park.

You can learn about the birds and beat the crowds at the same time with an upcoming program hosted by Knapp and the Friends of Latodami called “All About Eagles.” It will take place beginning at 6 p.m. March 9, which Knapp said is not only the first Monday after Daylight Savings Time but will also be the time when, if all goes according to plan, the eagles will be minding at least one egg.

“They will change their behavior once they lay the first egg,” Knapp said. “Someone, mostly the female, will be on the nest all the time once the first egg is laid.”

The eagles, whom the regulars call Ms. Rachel and Mr. Carson, nested in the park for the first time last year. Based on the eagles’ behavior, they do believe there was at least one egg. Unfortunately, no eaglet ever appeared.

With the couple’s second go-around, observers hope for a better outcome.

Unlike the Hays nest in Pittsburgh, there is no live camera on the North Park eagles so there will be no way of knowing how many eggs are in the nest, assuming mating is successful. Unlike both the Hays and Harmar nests, however, the North Park nest along Kummer Road can be viewed easily from what’s been renamed the Eagle’s Nest Shelter in the park.

Knapp’s program will begin at the basketball courts, from where the group will walk down to the shelter and Knapp will give some background on the eagles, their behavior and what’s been happening with them lately.

Right now, he said, they’ve been spotted a lot at the spillway and the female is eating as much as she can to build up her energy to lay eggs. Once the eggs do hatch, he said, you’ll see the eagles leaving and returning to the nest often with food. Eggs that are laid in February generally will hatch in early April, Knapp said.

Howard Keppell is a photographer and eagle enthusiast from West Deer who is at the park every day capturing the movements of the eagles.

Up until about a month ago, he said, they were working on the nest constantly. Now they seem to be content with its construction and are focused on adding fluff and leaves to help hold in the heat.

Keppell founded a Facebook page, North Park Bald Eagles, in January 2019 with about 20 members. There are now nearly 4,000 members from all over the world. They’ve even met people from other countries at the pavilion, he said, who were traveling in the area and came to North Park specifically to view the eagles.

What if Ms. Rachel and Mr. Carson become first-time parents this year?

“It will be crazy, yes,” he said. “No question, it will be crazy.”